I've always loved Walter Dean Myers' hard-hitting, realistic books for teens from Fallen Angels to Monster. Sunrise Over Fallujah is another gritty look at teenage life, but this time from the perspective of a young soldier in Iraq.
In this book, the main character, Robin arrives in Iraq before the start of the war. He's already stressed because he went against his father's wishes and he's never fought in combat before. He relaxes once he makes friends with fellow soldiers like Jonesy, a weird, but wise blues-loving man, and Marla, a cocky young soldier who affectionately calls Robin '' Birdy''. Their job is to serve as liasions between civilians and other American soldiers. Robin believes that the war will be quick and the Iraqis will be welcoming to the Americans, but after the initial '' shock and awe'' and Saddam's fall, the war quickly becomes more complicated.
The insurgency ( Iraqis against Americans) against the American soldiers grow and soon Robin doesn't know which Iraqis are welcoming and which are threatening. He grows even more tense and worried and after his first combat battle where he kills an insurgent, he becomes more unraveled. Soon, more death and destruction in his squad make Robin wonder if his fighting in Iraq is worth it to make Iraq free or if it's a waste of time and lives.
As a person who doesn't know much about the Army, I learned so much from this book about Army life. I learned that soldiers are really a family in battle and that anything comforting is a luxury from American food to music. I also learned that no matter what you may think about the war and whose side you're on, after reading Sunrise Over Fallujah, you'll always be on the side of the soldiers and respect the heartbreaking sacrifices they make to serve America.
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